The COVID-19 Sleaze

By Julius Oweh, Asaba
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Nigeria is a unique country with dubious distinction. Nigerians in public offices are infamous for cutting corners to make gains for self, family and friends. And no opportunity can slip by such Nigerians for they are smart enough in duping the commonwealth and for political office holders, betray the oath they willingly swore to uphold. I am talking about the COVID-19 and why those in position to administer to the medical needs of Nigerians are smiling to the banks. If you think that this is another armed chair journalistic speculations, I will give you two examples.

Last week, the auditor-general of the federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine said that most of N226.8bn COVID- 19 containment funds are unutilized. This ought to shock those Nigerians who have some atoms of conscience. Yet the government is looking for funds to combat the dreaded disease. He said that most of the agencies failed to use COVID-19 funds allocated to them through the Presidential Task Force as well as funds received in their annual budgets. Said the report from the auditor- general office :`Majority of the participating agencies failed to use funds allocated to them through PTF and directly through their annual budget towards the COVID-19 interventions as the level of funds utilization was 23.4 per cent across the 21 participating entities`.

If the agencies which are responsible for fighting the coronavirus refused to access the money allocated to them, what then is the reason for their existence? You do not need to read rocket science to know that at the end of the day, the money shall end in private pockets while our health system continue to degenerate and our people at the mercy of coronavirus.

Secondly, during the ENDSARS protest last year, food and other items donated by public spirited individuals were hoarded in ware houses across the length and breadth of the country. The culprits were the politicians we elected into public offices. In other climes where decency and justice matter, such people ought to throw in the towels and apologize to the masses. But one politician in a clearly after-whiskey talk said that the food and other palliative items were in the warehouse and that they were supposed to be used for celebrating birthday of the said politician. If such politician were to be in China, he would be shot dead.

The question that staggers the imagination is that these were food items donated by public spirited individuals meant to serve their compatriots with lesser economic fortunes. Yet politicians who were merely in charge of distributing the items decided to hoard them. Furthermore, money running into billions of Naira was donated by Nigerians at home and abroad. We were told that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is holding the money in trust for Nigerians. This piece is at pains to point out that the CBN and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 are in deafening silence about this money. If you do not call this sleaze, my limited vocabulary in Queens English is shaken to its foundation.

Those in charge of fighting the scourge of COVID-19 are just pretending to be serving us and some of my compatriots are being led through the garden path. I refused to belong to that group. Nigeria is ill prepared to fight COVID-19 and the health facilities are not just there. The only serving grace of Nigeria is that there is herd immunity. According to two leading Nigerian virologists, 70 per cent of Nigerians are immune to COVID-19. That is the more reason Nigerians must thank their ancestors for giving us a stronger DNA compared to the Europeans, Americans and Asians. You may not believe it but the facts are glaring and indisputable. When you look at the deaths in Europe and America, you must come to the cheerful reality that Heaven is really smiling on Africa especially those of us in sub-Saharan.

My dear Bill Gates, there are no dead bodies in the streets of Africa because of our DNA and ancestors. Please Gates do not overstretch your brain to scout for the reason why COVID-19 is not having devastating effects on Africa as predicted. It is the

70 per cent herd immunity that is protecting Nigerians. That is the more reason the federal government should thread cautiously as regards the purchase of COVID-19 vaccine. According to medical experts, the vaccine if administered to people with natural or acquired immunity is capable of destroying that immunity. I am happy that a prominent northern traditional ruler has kicked against the COVID-19 vaccine. But trust Nigerian officials, they will invent reasons why the government should purchase the vaccine, another means of lining their pockets.

My joy about this vaccine purchase issue is that there are no vaccines for Africa and Nigerians because Europe and America had bought over 90 per cent of the vaccine available. Dr. Tuyi Mebawondu, a public health physician said that there are no vaccines available to African countries and that any Nigerian leader talking about buying vaccine is not telling the truth.

Said Mebawondu “As of now, two months after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had been launched and are being deployed, no single African country has accessed them.

“If any state government says it has signed an agreement for COVID-19 vaccine, know that it is not true.

“How will such an agreement be reached in the first place? Which of the vaccines are they getting and at what dose each?

“Again, where will the Federal Government get the finance to purchase the vaccines? The only option that might be open to Nigeria is to wait for the COVAX arrangement by the WHO`.

While we continue to thank our ancestors for bequeathing a strong and resilient DNA to us, the Buhari government must unearth those Nigerians feeding on the sweat and blood of fellow Nigerians. It is because of the behavior of such people that skeptical Nigerians are calling the COVID-19 a big scam. It is not a scam in my judgment but certainly it is a sleaze, a conduit pipe for some Nigerians to enrich themselves. This is another variant of corruption and we are waiting for government reaction.

Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State. 08037768392

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Julius Oweh, Asaba and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."